Self-filming whitetail hunts have become enormously popular in recent years. Well-produced movies on TV make it look relatively easy, but filming a solo hunt efficiently is no easy task and requires a lot of practice and, most importantly, the right equipment. If you’ve gone down the film equipment rabbit hole, you’ve probably seen some shocking price tags. While there’s high-end camera gear out there that can quickly add to the bill, with a little planning, you can create a complete setup without breaking the bank. Here are six self-filming gear essentials to your setup that don’t require you to take out a second mortgage.
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1. Primary Camera
Your main camera will likely be your most expensive piece of gear, but there are several high-quality camera options on the market today that won’t break the bank. Years ago, a camera that produced high-quality film cost several thousand dollars, but as technology advances, even the most basic cameras today will make great video that rivals some of the more expensive models.
A few good options for the main camera:
Canon VIXIA HF G50
Sony-Alpha a7 III
Nikon D850 DSLR
2. Secondary Camera
A second camera is essential to get multiple angles and action shots of you drawing your bow or raising your rifle. Over the past decade, several companies have released pocket-sized cameras specifically designed for this purpose. It’s important to note that a Bluetooth remote control can be useful for these cameras, as you might not be able to press record when that trophy whitetail comes in.
My top tips for secondary cameras:
Tactacam – Solo Hunter
3. Camera arm
Camera arms are incredible pieces of equipment that help you stabilize the shot while also making it more convenient to operate on a solo hunt. If you’ve ever tried filming a hunt hands-free, you’ve probably noticed that the playback looks like you’re filming during an earthquake. These arms easily strap around a tree and mount seamlessly to your cameras, allowing you to position yourself when you’re ready to start filming. With updated attachments and mounting systems, it’s relatively easy to get movies from odd angles and narrow windows.
A few suggestions for camera arms:
Muddy – Outfitter camera arm
Fourth Arrow – Stiff Arm
HME – Better camera arm
They will not always hunt from within a stand of trees. Hunting from a blind ground can be extremely effective and the videos you can get from this setting are pretty amazing. In this situation, a tree arm is not effective for a stable shot and you need a tripod. Camera tripods range from simple fixed poles to advanced multi-angle telescopic tripods and everything in between. There are many options available to you depending on your price range.
A few tripod suggestions:
Avant-garde – Veo 3
5. External Microphone
Most quality cameras on the market currently have solid built-in microphones. These are great for a candid interview when you get to the stands, as well as close encounters, but to pick up sounds in the woods you’ll need an external mic. There’s nothing worse than recording a great video and finding the audio is muffled. Invest in a great external microphone as this will be one of your most important pieces of equipment.
Here are a few suggestions for a quality external microphone:
RODE – VideoMic MEL
6. Equipment bag or suitcase
Towing heavy equipment can be difficult and noisy if not done effectively. Camera gear is a big investment and as such needs to be treated with the right protection and housing. There are several ways you can transport your gear into the stand. Durable hard cases are extremely protective but tend to be on the heavier side and can be noisy. Shoulder and crossbody bags offer moderate protection and organization but are dead quiet. The size and style of bag you choose depends on your setup and how much gear you plan to bring with you.
Here are a few suggestions for quality gear bags to carry your gear into the woods:
Pelican – Vault V300C
Lowepro – Slingshot 250
Ruggard – Voyage 44
If you’re someone looking to get into self-filming, it can seem overwhelming at first, but it’s not all bad. Modern cameras have evolved in such a way that virtually every new camera on the market makes it a relatively easy process and delivers excellent video quality.
Keep in mind that filming your hunt can cause some unwanted movement while stationary, as well as disruption on the way to the station when reeling in your gear. I tend to be overly cautious when filming myself. Make slow movements, be mindful of your noise levels, find some mirrorless lenses, invest in the right camera gear, and maybe you can harvest that trophy buck and have a video to share and ponder for years to come. Much luck!